Presentation Convent, Mullingar
Excerpts from the Annals
Grange Crescent, Mullingar
Presentation Convent, Mullingar:
The Mullingar convent was founded on 29th October 1825 from Presentation Convent, Kildare and (Richmond) George’s Hill, Dublin. The founding Sisters were Mother Clare Healy (Presentation Convent, Kilkenny) and Mother Xavier Doyle (Presentation Convent, George’s Hill).
In 1817, money was left in the Will of a Thomas Lynch for ‘the introduction of a community of nuns who would devote themselves especially to the education of the poor of his native town’. James Hevey and Ellen Martin also donated money for a convent and school. Fr. Michael McCormack was charged with arranging for it.
A site was purchased in Mullingar for the erection of a convent and school. The building is still used as our Junior School today (2008). Mullingar was then a market town with a striving tanning and brewing industry. It had one street and a population of 4,000 people together with rich, surrounding countryside.
The convent was situated beside the only slated church between Dublin and Galway (built in 1767). The Dominicans had lived in this town and a sundial was given to the Sisters by these Dominicans, which remained in the grounds until 1996.
The first house was a three storey building incorporating the Convent and school (1825-1883) - currently St. Mary’s Hall. In 1840 the school relocated to part of the present Junior School and in 1923 further extensions were added to the school. A new chapel and convent were build in 1921. - these are still attached to the school.
The first school dates to 1st February, 1826. Miss Ellen Martin had been teaching there before the Sisters began on this day. The site included a fruit garden, which is said to have belonged to the Dominicans. The building consisted of 3 storeys: The school and kitchen were located on the ground floor, a community room on the 2nd storey and the cells and chapel were located in the 3rd storey.
The programme in the school included reading, writing, netting lace, arithmetic, spinning, straw plaiting and knitting. From the beginning there was a large attendance and many girls walked five miles to school. Within two years, business houses had orders supplied.
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A Chronology from the Annals
1800-1815: In the early years of the last century, there lived in Mullingar two traders, James Hevey and Thomas Lynch , who amassed a considerable fortune at that time by Brewing and Tanning. Mr. Lynch asked Mr. Hevey to accept the charge of a large sum of money which he was unwilling to risk in the Banks of his day. Mr. Hevey refused the offer, advising him to place it in the hands of their Parish Priest, Rev. Michael McCormack. Mr. Lynch died in 1817. In the distribution which he made of his property he left the above mentioned sum to Rev. Fr. McCormac, for the introduction of a Community of Nuns, who would devote themselves specially to the education of the poor of his native town. He also ordered that his house of Business and Stock-in-trade plus £600 of the sale given for the foundation of a funded property for the Religious. The legal formalities being gone through, the erection of the Convent soon commenced.
1820 or 1822: The Building of the Convent was not in a finished state at the time of its first occupation. However in the year 1825 it was pronounced habitable. Its first occupants were Miss Ellen Martin (Martin's Lane!) and all the poor children she could induce to come for a few hours instruction every day on the first floor of the new tenement - thus initiating the work of the future Order. Miss Martin caught typhoid fever while ministering to the Poor of the town. She is buried in Ballyote Chapel.
1825: was an anxious one for Fr. McCormack. Convents were few. After much negotiations, we find the Rev. Founder, taking a coach to Kilkenny to escort Mother Clare Healy of the Presentation Convent in that town, to Dublin to join Mother Xavier Doyle, Presentation Convent Richmond, who had volunteered her services for the Mullingar foundation. These two sisters, accompanied by an novice, Maria Nugent, left George's Hill Convent on the 29th October 1825. On reaching Mullingar they were graciously received and welcomed by Fr. McCormack and Miss Martin, who contributed the sum of £300 towards the construction of cells in their house. They were lodged in the Parochial House for a week, until the preparation for their Reception in the Convent should be completed.
On November 7th the octave of their arrival, the first Mass was celebrated and the Blessed Sacrament reserved. The intervening months from November to January 1826 were employed in setting the "house" in order. The nuns commenced teaching on either February 1st or 2nd. Subjects taught were Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Spinning and Knitting - very elementary. Straw plaiting and Netting lace were also taught with great proficiency and before two years had elapsed several business-houses had orders supplied.
1826 April 11th - This was the Inauguration Day of the Black Habit of the daughters of Nano Nagle. The ceremony was performed in the Parish Church by the Most Rev. Dr. Logan. Admission was by ticket. The then liberal sum of £200 was made available for fitting up a house, now known as St. Mary's Hall, for school purposes and for rendering the Convent suitable for a Chapel, Vesting and parlour. The chapel was used until 1883.
1831 saw the death of their esteemed pastor Rev. M. McCormack. (He is buried in Kilmacnevin)
1834 Dr. Cantwell visited Rome and obtained from Pope Gregory VII a brief of Indulgences for the Convent Chapel, with a plenary indulgence to each professed sister on the anniversary days of her Profession.
1840 Schools within the enclosure were opened, through the charitable bequests of Mr. James Hevey.
1843 The voice of Daniel 0 Connell, guest of Dr. Cantwell, echoed as the crowds assembled in the apartment then known as "The Big Room". It was the year of "Monster Meetings"
1846-'47 These dark days were sad ones for Mullingar. The townsfolk remember for many years the self-sacrificing Sisters who fed 100 children daily at the Convent. Funds for this work of Charity were supplied by The Hevet Trust Fund, Dr. Cantwell and other charities.
1850 The call of the Missions, ever strong in fervent souls, sent three sisters of the community to Madras, India, after the necessary permissions of Dr. Cantwell and the Bishop of Madras had been received. Those brave sisters were, Mother Ignatius Murphy, Sr. Mary Bernard Grey, and Sr. M. Xavier Flattery.
1862 Saw another appeal from Madras for more Presentation Sisters. It met with a generous response - the call being answered by Sisters Gertrude Kearney, Ignatius Moore, and Agnes Walton.
1866 Record the death of Dr. Cantwell.
1867 Most Rev. Dr. Nulty succeeded in the Bishopric.
1877 Sodality of Children of Mary established.
1878 Foundation Stone of new Chapel laid by Most Rev. Dr. Nulty.
1899 Sisters took charge of the Altars in the cathedral.
1901 The Irish language became an extra school subject.
1903 Sisters benefited by lectures on Elementary Science, Hand and Eye Training, Cooking and Laundry form Instructors from the Educational Board. During these years the numbers in the schools were increasing and School Inspectors were urging for more space.
1914 It was decided to purchase "Doherty's Garden" as a site for a Convent and allow the old one to be merged into the schools.
1918 Parish Bazaar to raise the necessary funds. Net proceeds £250 . The outstanding success was due to the endeavours of friends. Total proceeds £4000
1921 Work on new convent commenced
1922 Our Irish Government were well established and the Education Dept. ordered Irish Courses for teachers. The school sisters attended the courses held in our school.
1923 Building of the New Convent completed
1925 Centenary of the Foundation of the House.
1929 Electric light made available, and installed in the Convent in 1930.
1931 Sisters sent to Mount Anville for a Course of Instruction in Planning.
1932 saw the dawn of the never forgotten event, "The Eucharistic Congress" The Presentation Sisters talked and planned in consort with the rest of Ireland to celebrate the fifteen - hundredth anniversary of the Coming of St. Patrick to Ireland. We joined the National League of Prayer for the success of the event held in Dublin in June. Three hundred of our school- children went to the celebration on Children's Day, accompanied by Rev. E. Crinion. The day was to prove a glorious memory to our tiny group assembled in the Phoenix Park - a small group amongst the millionsof children from all parts of "The Emerald Isle".
1933 His Eminence, Cardinal Mac Rory presided at the impressive ceremony of laying the
foundation - stone of out new Cathedral for the Diocese of Meath, here in Mullingar. In December of this year work on the "New Wing" which completed the Convent was commenced.
1935 Our first novice went to Carysfort Training College.
1935 A memorable day in the life of the Convent. Holy Mass was celebrated in the Refectory of "The New Wing". In March of this year the Superiors went to Dublin and availing of the opportunity paid a visit to the then Minister of Education Mr. T. Derrig about a grant for re-modelling of our schools. He assured them of a grant of two-thirds of the total expenditure and gave them carte blanche with regard to Architect and Plans. Before any grants could be applied for it was necessary to visit the schools. The Education Office required a lease of 99 years, and as our lease had only 16 years to go we were faced with the new expense of having to buy out the property.
1936 Renovations of the Schools commenced. In July - a memorable day for the Diocese of Meath, for with solemn rite of holy Church Our Blessed Lord was enthroned in the Basilica as King of Kings. On the 6th of this month St. Mary's, The Old Cathedral, was used for the last time,
1939 The First Liturgical Festival in the diocese was held. On August the 30th the Cathedral of Christ, the King was solemnly consecrated.
1941 Rev. Mother had the comfort of paying off the final bills in connection with School buildings.
1942 In March the Educational Authorities recommended that the schools be insured for an adequate sum. On June 20th Most Rev. Dr. D'Alton ordained seven young men - from the Diocese of Meath, three for the Camillans.
1945 Retreat for our senior pupils and past pupils of our schools from the Vocational Schools. The Retreat was given by Rev. Fr. McNiffe. In December news reached Ireland that Dr. John Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis U.S.A. had been created Cardinal. On his way to Rome he visited his native Westmeath.
1946 Cardinal Glennon and his entourage arrived at Shannon Airport, where a magnificent number welcomed him from the Civil and Religious Communities in the country. On the following morning the Cardinal said Mass in Presentation Convent. But the climate of Rome and the harsh winter weather proved too much for the aged Cardinal. He was the guest of the President Sean 0 Ceallaig and Mrs 0 Ceallaig in Arus An Uactarain. He died there on March 9th to the great grief of his many relatives in Eire and U.S.A. His obsequies in Mullingar Cathedral was the biggest ceremony held therein.
1947 Most Rev. Dr. Kyne received from the Pope a renewal of the Portiuncula and Roasry Indulgences for this convent for seven years.
1949 In September the Children of Mary had their Retreat. His grace Most Rev. Dr. D'Alton paid a kindly visit to the Convent.
1949 A marble statue of the Sacred Heart was erected in the Convent Cemetery.
1950 The Superiors attended the first Conference for Religious attending National Schools. In July new Norman slab windows were put in , in chapel by the firm of Messers Lyons & Co. Dublin. In October an extension of our grounds was granted at the request of His Lordship to facilitate the development the plans to improvements on St. Mary's Hall.
1951 His Lordship granted a days outing to each sister during the Summer Holidays and suggested that from
1952 each member should have a fortnight's holiday at the sa.
1952 During the year past pupils of the Christian Brother's Schools organised a Retreat which took place in our Chapel. Enniscrone was the seaside location decided on for the first holiday. In September the two Superiors, at the request of Most Rev Dr. Kyne went to Rome to attend the first Congress of Mother General.
1953 Retreat for school childen from Std. IV was conducted by Rev. Fr. Cleere C.SS.R. All school children were enrolled in The Miraculous Medal.
1954 All the Investments of the Community were transferred to "St. Finian's Trust" in the name of the Rev. Mother. Schools numbers had increased to the figure of 900, so it was necessary to provide their accommodation. Applications were made to The Board of Education for a grant amounting to two-thirds of the total cost. In July Fr. Peyton held a Rosary Rally in Cusak Park.
1955 In August plans for the New School were sanctioned,
1956 Work on the Schools commenced.
1957 On the 19th March Dr. O'Grady O.M.I, came looking for a foundation for British Columbia. (There were no volunteers). Fr. 0 Sullivan came looking for subjects for the Diocese of Mobile. More than half of the community were anxious to volunteer service.
1958 Superiors decided on sending three sisters, with a fourth to follow. On August 4th farewells were said. At the airport they were welcomed by Fr. O'Sullivan, six other Irish priests and Sisters of Mercy. Their new Convent and Schools exceeded all that was hoped for. They started on August 15th under the patronage of St. Joseph.
1958 First holiday in Laytown.
1960 Mother Gertrude Shortall returned from Alabama, and was elected Rev. Mother in June. On Sept. 8th a Retreat for the sick, organised by the Children of Mary was held in our Chapel. 90 Invalids received Holy Communion at evening Mass. The Diocesan Patrician Celebration were held in Slane. Most of the Community were present.
1961 On Jan. 5th Most Rev. Dr. Kyne visited the Convent and Schools in Alabama. On Oct. the 11th Archbishop Toolin U.S.A. on his way to the opening of the Second Vatican Council, honoured us by a visit.
1962 Junior pupils attended Solemn Requiem Mass for the late Cardinal D'Alton. During the year renovations of St. Joseph's Infant School continued. New lawns were laid down.
1963 Plans worked on by Mr. Boyd Barret (Arch) for renovations of the Chapel were approved of by His Lordship Dr. Kyne.
1964 Revision of the Constitutions were discussed. Stations of the Cross were erected and blessed.
1965 Painting of Junior School and exterior of Senior School (J. Reilly & Sons)
1966 May 12th "Our Lady of Lourdes Club" opened by V. Rev. J. Dermody. Constitutions and Customs revised. Catechetical Course - Bellinter House. 16 Sisters attended.
1967 The appointment of Vary Rev. J.McCormack B.A., B.D., D.C.L. as Vicar Capitular of the Diocese of Meath.
1968 Announcement from the Apostolic Nunciature in Dublin , the Vicar Capitular Right Rev.Monsignor McCormack had been appointed Bishop of Meath. April 11th Confirmation of 300 pupils by His Lordship . Owing to the increased number of pupils three pre-fabs were erected - one for children with special needs.
1969 Holiday Bungalow, Laytown , acquired.
1970 Special Prayer Day for Vocations. An Elocution Course was held in the Convent.
1971 Six day Retreat - Fr. Sean Pagan, Bible Vigil & Folk Mass
1972 Sisters did Knock Vigil for Peace. July 8th Community voted and accepted The Constitutions and Statutes. October 8th, a vote was taken on our willingness to co-operate on Commissions of Preparation for union - Majority in favour. A vote for a Common Noviciate was taken on Nov. 14th (All in favour)
1973 Meeting of "Presentation" in Mount St. Annes - Dublin and Maynooth. Two sisters went to Perigrinatio - one to England on to Gibraltar.
1974 Christmas vacations extended - an extra week at Christmas owing to fuel crisis. Commission Meetings, in Mount St Annes. Eleven Sisters attended Catechical Course in St. Patricks Drumcondra. Presentation Sisters have purchased the Birthplace of Nano Nagle, Ballygriffin, Co.Cork. Draft for Union submitted to Rome.
1975 Very Rev. P.J.Regan organised Parents Meetings. Two Delegates attended the Union Chapter. Six attended The Second - National Council of Charismatic Renewal.
October 29th Our Presentation Foundation here reached its 150 year.
1976 Regional Meeting Ballinasloe. Sisters were elected to the new Parish Involvement Commission - Class Masses arranged for pupils. A Regional Meeting of our province was held on Nov.27th. Twenty-six sisters attended.
1977 Provinces were settled. Sr. Clement Hallinan - Provincial, our own Sr. Gertrude Shorten, her assistant, with Sr. Emmanuel Campion, Sr. Clement Melia and Sr. Peter Hendron as councillors. Several Meetings held in preparation for the Provincial Chapter, Acts of First Provincial Chapter closed in Dundalk. On January 18th a meeting for teachers in the area, was arranged by the Catechists of the Diocese. On July 24th the First Provincial Chapter of Province was opened in Dundalk. We now have in document form The Acts of the First Provincial Chapter, which was held in Dundalk on August 9th. From Sept. 23rd - 25th, a meeting for Principals of Primary Schools held in Dalgan Park. Workshops for Superiors were held in Manrese Retreat House Retreat House from 29th - 31st October. Meeting of all the Superiors of the Convents in the Diocese – Dalgan
1980 An Apostolic Commission Meeting - Gort Muire. Meeting of Vocation Promoters. In June there was a meeting in Finglas for Superiors and Principals of the Province. Also, Irelands' First National Pilgrimage - Congress- Missions. A Communications Course was held in St. Annes from August 7th - 11th. The Centenary of the Formation of the Children of Mary was celebrated. During the year Community Meetings were held regularly. Meeting of the Apostolic Commission -StAnnes Feb.23&24th. An Apostolic
Meeting was held in Gort Muire on 16th & 17th Dec. A Team from Dundalk Catechical Centre gave talks to parents and children. The Christian Life Community replaced Sodality of Children of Mary. On May 3rd His Lordship Bishop 'Joe' Harrahan C.S.S.R. visited his aunt Sr. Brendan. On July 11th & 12th a Provincial Assembly was held in Dalgan.
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Grange Crescent, Mullingar:
Grange Crescent was founded on 23rd November, 2001 by Srs. Lillie O’Reilly, Ursula Lawler and Peggy Campion. Lillie and Ursula moved elsewhere in 2003 and Bernadette Joyce joined Peggy in August, 2003. An invitation from the Provincial Leadership was the reason this community was founded.
17, Grange Crescent is within a housing complex of approximately 280 houses, on the outskirts of Mullingar town, off the Athlone Road. This Council house consists of three bedrooms with sitting room, bathroom and kitchen.
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